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Column: Sleep apnea common in women with PCOS

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My wife has PCO (polycystic ovary disease) and Type 2 Diabetes. I am concerned because she has been snoring lately. My mom is a nurse and says sleep apnea is common in PCO and she should have it checked out. Your thoughts?

A: Your mom is a wise woman. We have another of several studies published this month in the journal Sleep Medicine that demonstrate the high risk of sleep apnea in PCO. In this study, the incidence of sleep apnea was close to 50 percent in women with PCO. In addition, the women with sleep apnea and PCO tend to have difficult-to-control diabetes and a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease.

I agree with your mom that you should discuss this with your health care provider and have your wife tested.

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My wife has narcolepsy. During her pregnancy, she was told to stop taking Xyrem (sodium oxybate). It had done wonders for her since she started it. However, we are concerned about her breastfeeding and resuming the medication. Our obstetrician is uncertain and said he would review it. Do you have any information?

A: Yes, actually I do. A recent study published in Sleep Medicine addressed this topic. Despite the very short half-life of the medicine, they found significantly elevated levels of the medication in morning breast milk. As you know, it is taken at bedtime and once more three hours later. The authors feel more studies are needed, but in the meantime recommend that morning breast milk be discarded in nursing mothers on Xyrem. Still, please discuss this with your obstetrician.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg, board-certified sleep medicine specialist, will answer readers’ questions by incorporating them in future columns. Contact him through the form at www.answersforsleep.com or via mail at the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, 3259 N. Windsong Drive, Prescott Valley, AZ 86314.